It was pure happenstance that I came to live with Gia. In her first year and a half of life, she had four different owners. On her second stay at the Humane League of Lancaster county, my friend's mother toldher to look at Gia's picture on the league's website. My friend immediately told me I had to see this dog. So even though I had no intention of obtaining another four legged companion (I already had a dog named Otto, who was the master of all he surveyed and a cat named Buddy), I looked. I looked and fell in love with her immediately. She looked so scared I had to go see her right away. When I went to the league to visit her and see if we were a good match, a small girl went back to get her. She was at the end of her stay there (they were a kill shelter at the time and had tried to contact a rescue for wolfhounds but no one had returned their calls yet). A young girl went back to bring her out and she came barging out of the double doors dragging the girl behind her as she windmilled her way across the linoleum floor toward me, barking her head off the entire way. My first thought upon seeing this spectacle was "yep, that's my dog."
Gia never stopped making a spectacle when in public, me and the man actually found this over the top behavior endearing because after she would bark her head off at someone, all they had to do was put their hand down toward her and she would run over and jam her head into their legs. This was how she hugged people and she loved to do this almost as much as she loved to terrorize the cat. Poor Buddy never really did forgive me for adopting Gia and after losing several futon mattresses to his anger we found a way to give him his own space above her reach. Tom built him his very own room off of the closet with ramps and balcony access to the living room. He would lay up there and stare down at us all day long and patrol the house at his leisure at night. Gia of course would lunge at the wall just to watch him flinch but after a few bottles of spray water (which had no affect on her whatsoever), lots of drywall spackling and a little time, she grew bored of this game and life settled down into a comfortable pattern for all.
We did try to train her, I took her to a local obedience school, where my eighteen month old Irish Wolfhound mix looked like a eighteen year old in a kindergarten class. We failed. But we had fun doing it. (she did everything really well but the last command of "come" always translated for her into "run right toward me and then veer off at the last minute and run around everyone else like a total maniac." In all fairness to her, they do sound alike.)
As all patterns do eventually, this one broke down after Otto passed and Gia went through a heartbreaking depression. Then Seamus came to live with us and Gia glared at us for three months straight before she realized she could intimidate his big bully butt by turning the tables on him. Gia taught Seamus how to stand in the yard and bark at all the neighborhood dogs. With our help she also taught him to respect his elders and to stop trying to sit on her head when she was napping. Toward the end of her life, she learned from Seamus too. She learned how to turn in silly circles to illustrate how excited she was for her treat. We could tell she did not get the point of this behavior but she continued to do it long after she was tired and dizzy because she made her humans laugh. Seamus also taught her how to dig. The look on her face after she tossed her first pile of dirt behind her was priceless. I am glad I did not miss this moment. A moment that could have easily gone by without notice as I sat at my computer near the window and the man was getting ready for work.